Sharing trails with bikes - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 05-05-2010, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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Sharing trails with bikes

This is of course a hot topic for lots of us here.

Does anyone know how bike and horse speed events are held at other trail systems? Have you ridden on trails during bike races or endurance rides, etc. held on trails shared by mountain bikers?

Here in Washington Lord Hill is a popular horse and bike destination and full of winding trails and blind curves, so safety is a huge issue if one user group is traveling fast.

Safety is a huge issue with dual purpose trails. Last year we were riding at Buck Creek (wonderful place BTW) during the Enumclaw BCHW prize ride event. At the same time a bike group had a group ride at the same place. Hundreds of bikes, hundreds of horses, you get the idea. It was an accident waiting to happen. Fortunately, everyone that we met on the trail was very courteous. We moved to the side when we could and the bikers did likewise. Because of the congestion, however, we did decide to cut our ride short and not make the trip to sun top and its views of Rainier. I would venture to say that both groups would have had a more pleasant time without the other.

In the midwest some trail systems have gone to an even odd day system for users. For example; Mondays are horse use and Tuesdays are bikers only. This is a great system .... if you can ride on Monday. If not you're out of luck. This occurred on trails near the Cincy Airport that were a great ride.

I've also seen trail systems designate certain trail within the park by usage. Hueston Woods has trails just for horse and separate trails just for biking. This happened, again, after the various user groups couldn't play nice. The park rangers are serious about the usage rules and are quick to give tickets!

Of course the easiest remedy for land managers is to close trails. It's happened in Cincinnati and Northern Ky after bike and horse groups couldn't resolve their issues. England Idlewild closed to horse use and went entirely to biking when local horse groups didn't object until too late.

IMHO these conflicts are going to continue and even increase as more people discover the joy of being on trails in the outdoors. Unfortunately, at the same time use is increasing, the available recreational land area seems to be getting smaller, leading to more congestion. I'd much rather see all the user groups play well together as the examples I listed above all had the end result of less people using the the trails.

One thing that I do in the planning stage of a ride is to see what other groups may be out at the same time. I'll visit some of the bike club websites to see what's going on. Yes, it's a PITA. but it does let me know if I should reschedule.

Hoping others have thoughts on this.

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post #2 of 10 Old 05-05-2010, 08:31 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: MD
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Horse always has right of way in the parks around. It's actually posted everywhere. I must admit bikers were always respectful towards me and my horses. However I still prefer to let them pass to avoid frustration on both sides.
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post #3 of 10 Old 05-05-2010, 08:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Australia
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We ride trails in and around our city, so we don't really ave this issue. Luckily our horses are fine with bikes so they either ignore them, or jump a little then keep on walking.

We share the roads with bikes, cars, busses, trucks... Eh, we get used to it :]

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post #4 of 10 Old 05-05-2010, 10:55 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Ontario
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We have to be very careful where we ride here. Bikes are the majority, horses the rarity. We have had trails closed to horses due to biker/jogger complaints. If a horse drops manure on trails within city limits, we better be darn sure we get off and push it off the trail.
However, out of the thousands of bikers out there, I think it is only a few who complain. But they complain Loud!
For the most part, they are friendly and courteous, and will usually give right of way (as they are supposed to). Many ignore us and will pass without slowing. A few will stop to ask questions/admire the horses, and others will stop to tell us that we have no business riding horses on Their trails.
As for large numbers of horses meeting bike groups, I think you are wise to try to avoid it if possible. The potential of one horse setting off other nervous horses is a disaster waiting to happen. I don't believe you should bring a horse out on these trails without first conditioning them to bikes, but we all know Anything can happen, especially when it looks like a whole herd of horse eating bikes are on the attack, lol!
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post #5 of 10 Old 05-05-2010, 11:56 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Northern Utah
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The trails really close to home are multi use trails. I enjoy riding them because they are easily accessable, but also because it allows me to expose my horses to bikers, hikers, dogs, and lots of other stuff.

Snow Basin is a ski resort that is trying to attract bikers for the summer season. And they are succeeding. They have closed all the single track trails to horses and only allow horses on the two track roads. These are the same roads that the resort uses to build and maintain the ski lifts. So they zig and zag there way to the top of the mountain. Since the bikers often ride the lifts up and ride the bikes downhill. They can be moving very fast on the single track trails. So it's probably wise of the resort to close those trails to horses.

The area around the resort is Forest Service land. So it is open to multi use. We share those trails with bikers and hikers and I find them very courteous. They do occassionally come around a corner and surprise the horse. We just try and listen to the whoops of joy and anticipate their arrival.

Twice a year they hold the Xterra Challenge. This is a BIG event. Competitors come from many states. They close to trail to all access for this event.

Most of the other areas I ride are closed to wheeled vehicles. All the wilderness area are closed to wheeled vehicles, So it's not a concern when we ride those areas. I also find if I ride the challenging trails that I like, The bikers don't like the steep or rocky grades. So they avoid those trails because they are too difficult. But they are great for us.

I just never see bikers on trails like these. They must worry about branches getting in the spokes

And they don't seem to appreciate steep hills. Too much work on the bikes if there isn't a ski lift to carry them uphill

They don't seem to like the trails I seek out that carry me to scenic view points. Too steep, to much climb, too rocky.

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post #6 of 10 Old 05-06-2010, 01:07 AM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Northern Nevada
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It's much different around here. Forget horses: the mountain bikers are a danger to people on foot.

Of course it's only a small subset of the bikers who make the problem. (I do a lot of biking myself, FTM, sometimes biking along with my friends who are riding.) This small group likes steep downhill trails, treating them as a high-speed thrill ride. They don't ride in control, go full-speed around blind curves, etc, and sooner or later are going to wind up killing themselves or other people.
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post #7 of 10 Old 05-06-2010, 04:43 AM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Arizona
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Gosh, I had no idea bike riders could be such a problem. I am so lucky I have never encountered any out where I ride. Out here, we have to look out for ATV's though. But I can hear them coming and get off the trail and "hide" and they don't even know I am there 90% of the time.

I did have one encounter with a nasty bike rider when I lived in Phoenix, but that was like 15 years ago.

I am so lucky not to have to share the forest with bike riders. I think my Mustang would have a heart attack!
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post #8 of 10 Old 05-06-2010, 07:08 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: New Hampshire
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I never realized there was a problem with bikers, I hardly ever run across them, maybe 1/2 dozen times in the past five years. Most of the trails I ride would be awful tough for mountain bikers. The ones I have run into have been very polite, we usually stop and talk for a bit.
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post #9 of 10 Old 05-06-2010, 07:19 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Vanzant MO
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The local lake where i ride alot is a multi use trail system. So we have bikers and hikers. The horse's have right of way over the others. Most of the time the bikers are nice and stop same with the hikers. Alot of time the hikers have thier kids and we stop and they love to pet the horses and of course my horse JR thinks every person on the trail has a treat for him.LOL We have had maybe 2 incidents. One with a bike store owner who was coming down the trail and the girl's horse in front freaked at the bike and while she is having a rodeo to get her horse to calm down this jerk keeps coming at her until i finally yelled at him. Then he acted like it was our fault...Then we had a jogger Oh this one is good...We were just starting to enter the trail when we saw the jogger so were standing there quietly and he just jogging along. HE never I mean NEVER looked up...Well he did when he ran right into my friends draft cross. Yeap hit him in the chest. Bounced off , well we busted out laughing at him and then he turned into an instant A-hole..I guess it embrassed him that he didn't see a 1200 lb horse. THen he got really pissed telling us the horses didn't belong there. We told him these horses have been around here way before this lake..So take ur city arse home and read your park rules next time...He grumbled across the parking lot..But over all most of the people here enjoy seeing the horses. Sometimes the bikers will stop and stand still so we tell them to go ahead and move that the horses are afraid of you but if you don't move or say anything that's when they get nervous knowing that boogie man is going to get them.. We thank them for stopping and go along.. As far as atv's we just get off the trail and wait for them sometimes they see us sometimes not. If we have a young horse or one that is nervous we will try and get thier atttention and they shut down..We thank them and go on our merry way..Makes for Happy Trails...

Never Ride Faster than your guardian angel can fly

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post #10 of 10 Old 05-06-2010, 12:21 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Shenandoah Valley
Posts: 29
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I've ridden the C&O Canal on our end up here and the bikers are RUDE AND DANGEROUS!!! On our first ride a biker actually came up from behind my horse and ran into her! It's a good thing she is a been there done that kinda girl. She moved over a little as he went by. I almost kicked him off his bike! Another biker got right behind my friend's horse and blew his horn! Yep, a whirling rodeo. He almost got kicked, started yelling at us, but kept on going. I wish I could say that I've encountered courteous bike riders-----but I haven't. Not yet anyway. They don't give right of way, slow down, stop, or pay any attention to others. Very self absorbed.

This has been my experience. My sister is a mountain biker/runner but she also had horses so she talks to her friends about encountering horses on the trails.

I tend to not ride multi-use trails much. I'm there for relaxation and scenery.....not rudeness and rodeos! LOL!

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
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